The Dolphins’ second-team defensive line was second to none in Saturday’s intra-squad scrimmage.
Defensive ends Charles Harris and Andre Branch, who have been working with the second team all camp, were the stars of the day.
They combined to sack Ryan Tannehill three times; Harris led the way with two, which came on consecutive plays.
The second of Harris’ sacks, in which he appeared to beat Mike Gesicki around the left edge, would almost certainly resulted in a strip, had this been a game. Instead, Harris had to ease up before unloading what could have been a vicious hit.
For Harris, it was the capper to an excellent first nine days of practice.
And the latest sign that his disappointing and personally taxing rookie year is behind him. (Harris had two sacks all of last season.)
“I’m playing peacefully,” Harris said. “I’m thanking God for my opportunity to be out here. I’m loving the game. Last year, I just tried to work. Every day, I felt like I was checking off a checklist.
“Nowadays, I really love the game. I’ve got that love back,” he continued. “I feel like that’s the biggest thing. I want to be out here. Last year, I’m like, ‘Just get this thing over with.’ I love it now.”
Harris and Branch are backups in name only, Dolphins coach Adam Gase was quick to point out Saturday, as both will get a ton of reps once the games begin.
And Saturday was particularly encouraging for both, as their sacks came against Miami’s first-team offensive line.
“He’s a tough matchup, especially on pass downs,” Gase said. “The thing that he’s improved on, especially from last year to this year and then through training camp, is his transition to a pass rush when it’s first and second down. That’s really kind of where rookies across the league will struggle always.
“You’ll see that their pass disruption numbers aren’t as good on first and second down because they’re always thinking run and then they have to transition to the pass rush,” Gase added. “I think he’s really improved in that area and then you can see he causes disruption, especially if he gets a matchup where it’s a tight end/tackle trying to work with him. It’s really tough if he wins off the ball.”